Tri-Ethnic Center

College of Natural Sciences

Do Outcome Expectancies, Peer Injunctive Norms, and Adult Injunctive Norms Alter the Effects of Descriptive Norms on Substance Use Among AI and White Students?

outcome_exp For the school years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, 15 schools on or near AI reservations within the western and Midwestern U.S. participated in a survey of AI (984 students) and White (1350 students) high school students. This study focused on the potential moderating effects of outcome expectancies (OE), peer injunctive norms (Inj), and adult injunctive norms on the relationship between descriptive norms and substance use for marijuana and inhalant use.

For both AI and white adolescents, outcome expectancies served as a moderator for both marijuana and inhalant use. Among all students with high levels of descriptive norms, positive outcome expectancies for use amplified the effect of peer models on levels of use. See Figure to right for inhalant results.

Similar moderating effects of peer injunctive norms were found for marijuana, but not inhalant use. Adult injunctive norms also served as a moderator for marijuana use and was marginally significant for inhalant use (p. = .053). See Figure below.

ad_inj_normsEthnicity altered the relationship between peer injunctive and descriptive norms for inhalant use, but not for marijuana use. For AI youth, perceived peer disapproval of inhalant use served to buffer the negative effects of strong descriptive norms for use.


Dieterich, S.E., Swaim, R.C., & Beauvais, F. (2013). The normative environment for drug use:  Comparisons among American Indian and White adolescents. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 12, 1-17.